The national youth organization under the Japan Agricultural Cooperative group held a meeting in Tokyo on Thursday, Feb. 13, and agreed on the need to further reflect young farmers’ voices in agricultural policies.
They stressed the importance of young farmers coming up with their own solutions to challenges they face and implement them in the JA group’s policies and projects.
Some 1,000 participants of the meeting also held a rally in Tokyo the same day, urging the government to follow the resolutions adopted by the Diet’s agricultural committees and protect key agricultural products such as rice, beef and sugar from tariff elimination in the Trans-Pacific Partnership free-trade talks. With the TPP ministerial meeting scheduled to start on Saturday, Feb. 22, they called on the government to withdraw from the negotiating table if the resolutions cannot be met.
The farmers marched to the Diet from Hibiya Public Hall where they gathered, passing beside the Cabinet Office and the agriculture ministry, and protested against the government joining the TPP talks which go against national interests and the lack of information disclosure on the negotiations.
Masahiko Fukuda, 33, rice farmer from Hokkaido and a member of the Ebetsu bloc of JA Douou’s youth organization in Hokkaido, said he fears the TPP agreement could give damage not only on rice farmers but also on dairy and livestock farmers. In such a situation, it is risky to increase production of rice for livestock feed, Fukuda said, considering that demand for such rice could decline.
Satoru Yamashiro, 50, a sugar cane farmer and a member of JA Okinawa’s association for young and middle-aged farmers, said that if the sugar cane farming in Okinawa is destroyed, remote islands of Okinawa could become uninhabited like Senkaku Islands. Instead of only trying to strengthen the nation’s military forces, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s administration should focus on sugar canes as an important product for national defense, Yamashiro said.
(Feb. 14, 2014)